Monday, August 21, 2006

Cindy Crawford


I’ve lost faith in my hometown because they decided to put a likeness of Cindy Crawford on a new town mural instead of me.

The mural was painted on the side of a tavern in the heart of downtown DeKalb – my birthplace and only a few miles from where I live now in northern Illinois. It presumes to celebrate the hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of the town with a panorama of notables.

Please, no – this is not a case of an ego out of control, at least not mine. It’s a question of fairness. I only use my own situation here because I’m familiar with it. Were I living someone else’s life I’d probably use that.

Cindy and I were both born in DeKalb, though separated by a generation. We graduated from the same high school and then went on to lead lives appropriate to our ambitions and abilities.

But where she has a gorgeous body, I have a doctorate in philosophy. Where she has a mole, I have two published books to my credit. Where she was once married to Richard Gere, I’m still married to the daughter of a school board president. Where she has appeared in some really bad movies, I once made a sparkling appearance on WGN radio in Chicago. Where she once appeared naked in Playboy, I once appeared fully-clothed in The Diary of Anne Frank.

Yes, I know, credentials can be flaky things. Just look at all those online resumes that are about as truthy as the advertised cost of a cellphone plan. But if you raise your gaze upward to Cindy’s likeness, what are you supposed to do? Dream of posing for Playboy (my time has passed)? Check your cheeks every morning for signs of an incipient mole? Fantasize about a divorce from Richard Gere?

No, I don’t necessarily see myself as a hero for America’s youth to emulate. But, at the very least, gazing upon my likeness might inspire someone to lose a couple of pounds, grow a mustache, publish a collection of short stories and a novel, walk seven-hundred miles a year, be the author of a comic book, or fall in love with The Sopranos.

It’s a question of fairness.

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